Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 6

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 6

Growing Up A Saumensch

  • It takes a long time before Liesel steals another book—this one from fire, instead of snow.
  • Liesel also got books as gifts and ends up with a total of fourteen of them.
  • Ten books frame the story of Liesel's life.
  • She steals six books.
  • She finds the seventh on "the kitchen table" (6.2).
  • The eighth and ninth are "made for her by a hidden Jew" (6.2).
  • The tenth book is "delivered by a soft, yellow dressed afternoon" (6.2).
  • (Death seems to adore foreshadowing—so, all this will make sense soon, just keep it in mind as you read.)
  • At some point, Liesel comes to write the story of her life, and she wonders just when words became so incredibly important to her.
  • Before talking about that, Death wants to show us Liesel's early days on Himmel Street.
  • When she first arrives, she's suffering from extreme malnutrition.
  • She's blond, but has brown eyes, not the color eyes you want to have if you live in Germany during these times.
  • (Anyone with eyes other than blue, and hair other than blond could be a target for the Nazis.)
  • Her brown eyes might be the color of her father's, but she's never seen her father.
  • She's only heard of him, heard that he is a "Communist" (6.3), though she doesn't know what this means. She'd asked her mother, but didn't get an answer.
  • (See "Setting" for a word on Communism during World War II.)
  • Liesel feels abandoned by her mother.
  • She knows her mother is always ill, and there isn't enough money to help her. But, she still can't believe her mother loves her, since she gave her away.
  • The house on Himmel Street is small, with several rooms, a kitchen, and a basement. For bathroom needs, the Hubermanns share an outhouse with some of their neighbors.
  • The basement, they will later learn, isn't deep enough to function as a bomb shelter.
  • Right now in 1939 this isn't a big issue.
  • In 1941 and 1942, there will be "air raids" and the Hubermanns have to go to deeper shelters to be safe from the fire from the sky.
  • The first thing that strikes Liesel about the Hubermann household is "the profanity" (6.14). There's lots of it.
  • The most common words being used are "Saumensch or Saukerl or Arschloch" (6.14).
  • Death explains to us that sau means a pig. Saumensch is an insult for women, Saukerl is an insult for men. Arschloch is "asshole" (6.14).
  • Rosa Hubermann tries to make Liesel take a bath by screaming abuses at her.
  • Hans stops Rosa and says he'll give it a shot.
  • In the washroom, he teaches Liesel how to roll cigarettes, but she doesn't take a bath.
  • Hans works as a painter.
  • He also plays the piano accordion and sometimes earns a little money making music in bars.
  • Most people barely notice Hans, even though he's an excellent painter and a great accordion player.
  • Most people didn't see him as very "valuable" (6.22).
  • Liesel on the other hand, sees him as highly valuable.
  • Rosa Hubermann does laundry for five prosperous Molching families.
  • She's a terrible cook and irritates everybody she comes in contact with.
  • Rosa loves Liesel, but, "Her way of showing it just happened to be strange. It involved bashing her with wooden spoons and words at various intervals" (6.26).
  • After Liesel has been with the Hubermanns for several months, Rosa tells her to start calling her "Mama" (6.28) and to call Hans "Papa" (6.30).

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